WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) — Four former members of the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff say the military could shed 60,000 more troops than planned and 50,000 civilian employees without hurting U.S. fighting power.

Some $50 billion in budget cuts are recommended in a new report released Tuesday that was written by a 17-member panel including two former vice chairmen of the joint chiefs, a former Air Force chief and former Navy chief. The recommended cuts would replace future rounds of automatic, across-the-board cuts in the Pentagon’s budget as part of a deficit reduction deal two years ago.

Writing for the Stimson Center think tank in Washington, the authors recommended 27 ways to trim costs under a strategy that focuses less on nuclear and ground forces and more on air, sea, space and special operations.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little told reporters yesterday that a government shutdown would put “severe hardships on an already stressed workforce and is totally unnecessary,” but the department is updating its plans regardless.

Should there be a shutdown at the beginning of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, all members of the military would still report to work, said Little, but the Pentagon is still determining which civilian employees would be furloughed or exempt from the cuts.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



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